Scotland’s social enterprise accelerator gears up for its seventh intake of applications

Sean Kerr, Director at STS

LAUNCHME, Scotland’s social enterprise accelerator, has opened for applications. The programme looks for innovative social enterprises with the ambition to grow and achieve social impact at scale.

LaunchMe is delivered by social enterprise agency Firstport and funded by the Scottish Government. It supports social enterprises to grow by providing a comprehensive business support package, seed funding to get them investment ready and direct access to investment opportunities. Since 2014, the programme has helped 44 social enterprises to scale and increase their impact. 17 of them have gone on to raise over £1.35 million of private investment.

The programme’s alumni operate across sectors and in every corner of Scotland delivering benefits for their communities. Two participants from the sixth round have reached milestones in their scale-up plans in the last few months.

Falkirk-based Sustainable Thinking Scotland (STS) secured a £190,000 investment from the Catalyst Fund, also operated by Firstport, to bring their innovative biochar technology to market. With investment in place, STS are now increasing production capacity and R&D, as well as creating new jobs and developing core business operations for the intended scale up.

Sean Kerr, Director at STS, said: “The investment is a significant milestone in the development of our social enterprise, and together with the support and connections provided by LaunchMe, will be the catalyst which allows us to drive innovation and regulation within these new carbon markets, helping to set the standards for environmental recovery, whilst contributing towards Scotland’s Net Zero ambitions”.

In Shetland, Bigton Collective, a social enterprise aiming to take over the local kirk to transform it into a versatile and sustainable community space, has recently reached a crowdfunding target which is a great boost to their wider funding strategy. With funding in place, the proposal is to repurpose the building into a dynamic community hub that will include fully accessible hostel accommodation, café facilities with flexible working, and community spaces. 

On her experience of the programme, Alice Ritch, Founder of Bigton Collective, said: “Being part of the [LaunchMe] cohort has given me validation and increased my confidence. It has been like a university degree’s worth of learning. In tandem with the Scottish Land Fund process, it has completely changed the sense of who I am in the community”. 

Josiah Lockhart, Chief Executive of Firstport, said: “LaunchMe has a track record of supporting scaleable social enterprises to grow and increase their social impact. Our alumni work across the country creating jobs, stimulating economic activity, and addressing pressing social and environmental challenges. 

We have designed a holistic programme that enables social enterprises to achieve their business potential whilst maintaining a razor-sharp focus on their social impact. We encourage ambitious social and community entrepreneurs to apply to the programme!”.

Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government said: “We are delighted to continue our support of Firstport to help deliver their LaunchMe programme.

“We have seen a number of ambitious social enterprises taking advantage of the programme to grow their businesses over the seven years we have partnered with Firstport. I look forward to hearing about the successful applicants of this latest LaunchMe programme.”

Applications for LaunchMe are open for applications until Monday 17 January 2022. Interested applicants are encouraged to visit the Firstport website and attend the information webinars.

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